“U-Turn” program helps students excel in all aspects of college life

Hailey Mensik

For the first time since its launch seven years ago, the U-Turn program at The Institute for Learning and Teaching will be hosting a program for the spring semester.

U-Turn, which is designed to help students not only academically but also socially, is back by popular student demand and will take place Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the TILT building on the Oval.

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Jack Nollette, a mechanical engineering major, discusses what needs to be set up at the upcoming  "U-Turn Event" with Cammie Palomino, a health and exercise science major. U-Turn is being held at the TILT building this Thursday, March 3, from 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Photo credit: Bianca Torrez.)
Jack Nollette, a mechanical engineering major, discusses what needs to be set up at the upcoming “U-Turn” Event with Cammie Palomino, a health and exercise science major. U-Turn is being held at the TILT building this Thursday, March 3, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Photo credit: Bianca Torrez.)

The event will include a raffle with prizes, including a Fitbit. 

“Every year, we average about 300 students who attend U-Turn,” said Darrie Burrage, the associate director of learning programs. “Although it’s a big event, we have designed U-Turn to have a personal touch.”

The mission is to help students identify their goals, acknowledge challenges they may face in their endeavors and map out steps they can take to reach their objectives.

“We want people to establish reasonable, measurable, attainable goals here,” Burrage said. “It’s not enough just setting the goal itself — but knowing the steps of how to get there.”

The U-Turn program is intended to help not only with academic, but also social challenges.

“All those different aspects, of your life — social, financial, spiritual, emotional whatever — those indeed impact your academics,” Burrage said. “It’s hard for you to attend office hours if every night you’re fighting with your roommate. We understand that there are these things that impact your academics.”

That is why U-Turn takes a more holistic approach.

The first step taken at U-Turn is for students to complete a self-assessment and evaluate where they are struggling. Once students’ challenges are identified, they discern how it is manifesting in their academic performance.

Afterwards, they are matched with an academic navigator.

“A navigator is a professional staff person here at the University who has been trained to essentially help you determine the steps of how to arrive at the goals that you have,” Burrage said.

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Finally, in the spirit of U-Turn, the student and navigator generate a road map, or plan, for the student to reach their individual goals.

“We do offer workshops on basic things, like time management, note taking, motivation and goal setting, memory and concentration, reading skills, public speaking, all kinds of stuff,” Burrage said.

Soft skills, as Burrage calls them, are keys to enhancing academic performance.

Common issues among college students also tend to be social. Social problems, which can reveal themselves in one’s academic performance, are highlighted in the self-assessment stage.

“Have you connected to anybody in your class, have you visited one of the cultural centers, have you joined a club?” Burrage said. “Let’s connect you to the culture centers, or SLiCE, and we call that building an action plan.”

Collegian Reporter Hailey Mensik can be reached at news@collegian.com.